CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 26 . . . . March 9, 2012
In this handy sized volume of 167 pages, the Canadian content has been extracted from the very large and impressive Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps Catalogue 1840-1970 (CM, Vol. XVI, No. 16, December 18, 2009). In addition, further information covers stamps printed from 1970 to the present. For those who specialize in collecting Canadian stamps, this offers the convenience of easier portability plus the scholarship of Stanley Gibbons Catalogues at an affordable price. The last edition of this particular volume was published in 2008. Since then, the information, including prices, has been updated throughout, several new varieties of stamps have been listed for the first time, and a very useful Design Index is included.
Canadian stamps are listed from the early colonial stamps of British Columbia and Vancouver Island 1860-71, Colony of Canada 1851-64, New Brunswick 1851-63, Newfoundland 1857-1949, Nova Scotia 1851-63 and Prince Edward Island 1861-72. These are followed by the issues of the Dominion of Canada and include modern day Canadian stamps up to and including those issued in 2011. For each province, a brief history (see excerpt example above) prefaces the stamp descriptions, providing not only a history of Canada's stamps but also a parallel history of the country's evolution.
As per the standard format that Stanley Gibbons employs, stamps are listed in date order with any special features and variations included. These include the listing of all watermark varieties, perforation varieties, major errors, discernable color shades, plate flaws and many other details. The prolific illustrations are in full color making this a delight to the eye as well as providing a wealth of information. Being a British publication, prices are listed in pounds and pence sterling. There are also multiplier tables provided to help collectors assess the value of cover stamps up to 1945, excluding first day covers.
Some varieties are listed for the first time, and the stories behind these are intriguing as well as making the eyes of avid collectors sparkle. These varieties include the 'Cockeyed King' on a two-cent coil stamp that, due to a printing error, makes King George V look as if his eyes are of drastically different sizes! Equally fascinating is the 'Weeping Princess' where an accident during printing has created a teardrop beneath Princess Elizabeth's eye, and, in the same year, one of the 1935 Silver Jubilee stamps includes an erroneous 'shilling' mark in the price.
Edward Stanley Gibbons started trading postage stamps in his father's chemist shop in 1856. The company produced its first stamp catalogue in 1865 and has been in the forefront of stamp collecting for over 150 years.
This volume provides a wealth of information to satisfy the most specialized of collectors but is easily used by beginner collectors as well. Since it is published only every three years or so, it is easily affordable by libraries and would make a valuable addition to library shelves as well as to the collections of individual stamp enthusiasts. With its sound foundations, superb scholarship and high standard of production, I have no hesitation in recommending this title.
Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian from Toronto, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.